With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Michael McColly teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of The After-Death Room: Journey into Spiritual Activism, which chronicles his reporting on AIDS activism in Africa, Asia, and America. He is currently at work on a book about urban walking.
Her face registers that frightful blankness I’ve come to know too well during her slow descent into dementia. For her, is it winter? Is it yesterday? Is it now? “I was following these flowers,” she says. “Somebody’s planted them all along this road. See?”
The day after my mother told him the news, he called. His voice cracked, and I could hear him trying to pick up his words and hand them to me, one by one. “Are you all right?” he asked, over and over. It wasn’t so much what he said as what I heard in his voice: I heard somebody I’d never met before, a man he didn’t even know so well himself.